It does sound like some of the stress of high school may be playing a role in your difficulty falling asleep. Have you talked with anyone about this? It helps to talk about our feelings with someone—whether the problems concern home life, friends, or if it is just school stuff. You might want to schedule an appointment with a school counselor and see if talking with any of them is helpful. Don’t forget your parents, either. Sometimes it can be hard to get their attention, but if you ask them I am sure they will listen to you.
I have a tip for you about getting to sleep faster. Take a hot shower or bath before you go to bed—about thirty minutes before you want to turn out the lights. The reason why it works is because the hot water makes our body temperature increase. When our bodies get warm, it is a signal to our brains that it is time for sleep. A recent study presented at the Association of Professional Sleep Societies’ annual meeting this year in New Orleans, LA, showed that hot baths were as effective in inducing sleep as taking a popular sleeping pill! Not only did the baths make people fall asleep faster—they even increased the amount of deep sleep they had—which sleeping pills tend to diminish. How’s that for a great, natural way to relax and fall asleep?
The current feeling about Melatonin in the medical community is one of cautious optimism. Because Melatonin is not a federally regulated drug, (by the Food and Drug Administration) but rather is sold as a “food supplement,” producers don’t have to meet uniform standards for purity, dosage, or contents. This means that there may be some poor quality melatonin products on the market—not unlike what occurred with the sleep aid L-Tryptophan several years ago. There also has not been a great deal of research done on Melatonin—to the point where we are fully confident of its long term effects. This much having been said, Melatonin is a very effective sleep aid for many people, many of whom are older. Melatonin levels decline in the body as we age, and for this reason replacing the “lost” Melatonin is particularly effective with older people. Because you are 15 years old, I would suspect that your Melatonin levels most likely are fine, and that you really don’t need the supplement. I suggest you try the hot shower or bath before bedtime, and that you talk with your friends, family, or school counselors about any stresses or issues that are on your mind. And then write us back and let us know how it goes!
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